Solana vs. Ethereum: What’s the Difference?

Zac McClure
ByZac McClure, MBAReviewed byAlex MilesUpdated on June 19, 2024 · minute read
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  • Solana has, at time of writing, outperformed Ethereum in key metrics like daily active users and transaction speed but still trails in market capitalization.

  • For investors, Ethereum offers a more mature ecosystem and greater stability, while Solana provides faster transaction speeds and lower fees, appealing to new developers and users.

What is Ethereum?

First launched in 2015, Ethereum is a pioneer in the world of smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps). Created by Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum introduced the concept of a programmable blockchain, enabling developers to build and deploy a wide range of applications on its platform. This innovation has led to Ethereum becoming the backbone for numerous DeFi protocols, NFTs, and other dApps.

Ethereum's market capitalization currently stands at over $250 billion, making it the second most valuable cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Despite its widespread adoption and success, Ethereum has faced challenges with scalability and high gas fees, issues it aims to resolve through ongoing upgrades like the transition to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and layer-2 solutions.

What is Solana?

Solana, founded in 2017 by Anatoly Yakovenko, a former Qualcomm engineer, was designed to address some of the limitations seen in older blockchains like Ethereum. Solana can process transactions at lightning speeds and at much lower costs by relying on a unique consensus mechanism called Proof of History (PoH) combined with Proof-of-Stake (PoS).

Solana has quickly risen to become one of the most valuable cryptocurrencies by market cap. It boasts rapid transaction processing, making it highly attractive for high-frequency trading and applications requiring quick transaction speeds. However, it has faced criticism for its perceived centralization and network reliability issues.

Key features and differences

Ethereum and Solana each offer distinct advantages and face unique challenges. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences investors should consider with Ethereum vs Solana.

  • Transaction Speed: Due to its PoH mechanism, Solana can process over 2,600 transactions per second (TPS), while Ethereum currently handles around 15 TPS. This speed advantage allows Solana to offer lower fees and better scalability.

  • Consensus Mechanisms: Ethereum recently transitioned to PoS to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Solana’s innovative PoH adds a time-stamping component to block creation, enhancing transaction speed and network efficiency.

  • Transaction Fees: Ethereum's fees can range from $10 to $50 per transaction during peak times, while Solana maintains consistently low fees, often less than a cent.

  • Ecosystem Maturity: Ethereum's well-established ecosystem includes a vast array of dApps, DeFi protocols, and NFT marketplaces. Solana's ecosystem, while rapidly growing, remains smaller in comparison.

Solana’s pros and cons

Pros

  • Speed and Scalability: Solana’s transaction speeds are among the fastest in the blockchain world, making it suitable for applications needing quick and frequent transactions.

  • Low Fees: Consistently low transaction fees make Solana attractive for both developers and users.

  • Environmental Impact: Solana's PoH and PoS mechanisms are more energy-efficient compared to Ethereum’s PoW (prior to its transition to PoS).

Cons

  • Centralization Concerns: The high cost of running a node on Solana means fewer validators, leading to concerns about centralization.

  • Network Reliability: Solana has experienced several outages, raising questions about its long-term reliability and security.

  • Smaller Ecosystem: While growing, Solana's ecosystem is still dwarfed by Ethereum's in terms of dApps and developer support.

Ethereum's pros and cons

Pros

  • Established Ecosystem: Ethereum has a mature and robust ecosystem with numerous dApps and strong developer support.

  • Security and Stability: As the first smart contract platform, Ethereum has a proven track record and is widely trusted by developers and investors.

  • Interoperability: Ethereum's extensive integration with other blockchain networks and layer-2 solutions enhances its functionality and scalability.

Cons

  • High Fees: Ethereum's transaction fees are significantly higher than those of Solana, which can be prohibitive for small transactions.

  • Scalability Issues: Despite recent upgrades, Ethereum still faces challenges with scalability compared to newer blockchains like Solana.

Will Solana ever overtake Ethereum?

Solana has made significant strides, especially in 2023, by outperforming Ethereum in daily active users and transaction volumes. However, Ethereum's substantial first-mover advantage and its deep-rooted ecosystem make it a challenging contender to surpass.

While Solana's technological advancements and lower fees position it as a strong competitor, Ethereum’s extensive developer base, security, and continued upgrades ensure its dominant position in the near term.

Solana vs Ethereum NFTs

While Ethereum has historically dominated the NFT space with platforms like OpenSea and major collections such as CryptoPunks, Solana is catching up rapidly. Solana's lower fees and faster transactions provide a better user experience, especially for high-frequency NFT trades.

Platforms like Magic Eden on Solana are gaining traction, and the blockchain's growing popularity among NFT creators suggests a promising future.

How to Buy Solana (SOL) and Ethereum (ETH)

SOL and ETH can be purchased on major cryptocurrency exchanges, including Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken. Investors can buy these cryptocurrencies using fiat money or other cryptocurrencies. Both SOL and ETH can be stored in various crypto wallets, including hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor, which offer enhanced security.

Learn more about the best crypto exchanges available today.

Tax implications Solana vs Ethereum

When it comes to crypto taxes, both Solana and Ethereum are treated similarly under most jurisdictions. Transactions, staking rewards, and capital gains from both cryptocurrencies are typically subject to taxation.

Investors are strongly advised to keep complete records of transactions in order to report accurately and take advantage of any available deductions. Consulting with a crypto tax specialist can help navigate the complexities of cryptocurrency taxation.

Looking to calculate your crypto taxes? Try our free crypto tax calculator.

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Solana vs Ethereum FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Ethereum vs Solana and is Solana better than Ethereum?

Is Solana an ‘Ethereum killer’?

Solana is sometimes called an "Ethereum killer" due to higher transaction speeds with lower fees. However, despite these advantages, Ethereum's extensive ecosystem and first-mover advantage make it a resilient leader in the blockchain space. So, is Solana better than Ethereum? Solana shows great potential but has yet to surpass Ethereum in overall market dominance.

How will Firedancer impact Solana?

Firedancer, a new validator client for Solana, promises to significantly enhance the network's performance and scalability. Able to handle 1 million transactions per second, Firedancer could further reduce transaction times and fees, making Solana even more competitive. This upgrade (expected in the summer of 2024) could position Solana as an even more attractive option for developers and users.

To stay up to date on the latest, follow TokenTax on Twitter @tokentax.

Zac McClure
Zac McClureCo-Founder & CEO at TokenTax
Zac co-founded TokenTax after his career in international finance and accounting at JPMorgan, Imprint Capital and Bain. He has worked in more than half-dozen countries and received his MBA from the UPenn Wharton School.
Alex Miles
Reviewed byAlex MilesCo-Founder at TokenTax
Prior to TokenTax, Alex worked as a Product Designer at Dropbox and before that Readmill (acquired by Dropbox). He holds a BS in Digital Information Design - Interactive Media from Winthrop University.

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